Considering how much money NFL players pull down, I’m guessing neither the Denver Broncos nor the Carolina Panthers will be too upset with the so-called “Jock Tax” they will be forced to pay for playing in Super Bowl 50. But it’s still a lot of money.
First, via CPA Robert Raiola in Sports Illustrated, an explanation of the Jock Tax: Of the 25 states with professional sports teams, 21 impose a tax on income earned by athletes (and coaches, trainers, broadcasters and refs) while working in that state. Eight cities also impose a tax on visiting athletes. In most places, the tax is based on how many days an athlete spends working in the state or city in proportion to the total number of days he works during the year; that ratio is then multiplied by the player’s annual salary to determine the state’s allocable income. In the case of the Super Bowl participants, that’s seven days of work.
In California, home of Super Bowl 50, the top income tax rate (i.e., the one paid by people who make at least $1 million annually) is 13.3 percent, the highest in the nation.
According to Raiola, California collected more than $229 million in income tax from professional athletes in 2013. With this year’s Super Bowl — and with the Rams’ move to Los Angeles bringing even more out-of-state athletes into California — that number is sure to grow.
So how much will a player like, say, Cam Newton have to pay for playing in the Super Bowl? Because the Panthers lost, each player will receive a $51,000 bonus (the victorious Denver Broncos took home $102,000 each). According to Forbes that means Newton will pay $87,800 in taxes simply for playing in the Super Bowl, or 172.2 percent of his Super Bowl bonus. Add in the two games the Panthers play at the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Rams next season — four more days of work — and he’ll end up paying California $137,900 in taxes for 2016.
Newton will make more than $20 million in salary in 2016, plus millions more in endorsements. He’ll also probably get some sort of tax credit to at least partially offset the out-of-state tax from the state in which he resides. He’ll be fine.
Next year’s Super Bowl is in Houston. Texas does not have an income tax, and thus does not have a Jock Tax.